The Third International after Lenin

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The USSR looked at Mao

The twentieth century is characterised by the great achievements of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries in the revolutionary transformation of society, and tremendous advances in science, the taming of nature and the conquest of space. Nevertheless, even in this day and age, myths and mystiques can and do make their appearance for various reasons in social life, science and ideology.

One of the most baffling mystiques of our time is undoubtedly the cult of the Mao Tse-tung personality and Maoism. Just as in the Middle Ages philosophy was placed in the service of theology, so in present-day China philosophy, as part of "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung", is made to serve the cult of Mao Tse-tung and the military-bureaucratic dictatorship he has established. Although this is a relatively recent development, Mao Tse-tung has long regarded " philosophy" as a means of justifying and providing a theoretical basis for various forms of "practice".

One of the principal dangers of the Maoist mystique for the cause of socialism is the fact that the Maoist pseudophilosophy employs Marxist-Leninist terminology and even claims to be "The Peak of Marxism-Leninism". Maoism's masquerade as Marxist philosophy is facilitated by the fact that it emerged as an independent ideological current out of Marxist practice living as a parasite off the complex theoretical, social, and political problems faced by a Marxist party in the very special conditions that obtained in China.

By parading in Marxist disguise, Maoist philosophy disorientates and ideologically disarms the masses in China and those revolutionaries in other countries who are not well versed in revolutionary theory and attempt to study the experience of the Chinese revolution without having first mastered the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism.

Maoism not only discredits Marxist philosophy, presenting it in a highly primitive, grotesque form, but temporarily hinders wide sections of the working masses in China and other countries from understanding genuine international Marxist-Leninist doctrine and its philosophy.

Although eclectic in its composition and founded on subjective-idealist principles, Maoist philosophy holds up a screen of militant materialism and wages a fierce struggle against Marxist philosophy, declaring it to be "revisionist", "metaphysical" and so on.

Mao's followers present his philosophy as "contemporary Marxism-Leninism". Mao's most loyal comrade-in-arms and disciple Lin Piao appraises Mao's "contribution" to Marxist-Leninist theory as follows: "Comrade Mao Tse-tung is the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our time. Brilliantly, creatively and all-embracingly, he has inherited, upheld and developed Marxism-Leninism, and raised it to a new stage."

So much for Mao Tse-tung's "contribution". Let us now take a look at what Lin Piao has to say of Maoism, dubbed "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". "The thoughts of Mao Tsetung are the Marxism-Leninism of the age of the universal collapse of imperialism and the triumph of socialism throughout the world." Further on we would learn many more curious things about the fabrication of myths in our time. According to Lin Piao, the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung are "a powerful ideological weapon against imperialism, revisionism, and dogmatism", and "serve the whole Party, the whole of the army and the whole country as a guideline in any work". [6•1

The above statements by Lin Piao express in a frank, peremptory manner the claims of the Maoists to hegemony and their intention to continue masquerading as Marxists. If we are to believe the Peking publishers (which is unfortunately not always possible, even as regards the dating of Mao Tse-tung's works, as we shall see later), these lines were written by Lin Piao on December 16, 1966.

However, we should be greatly overestimating the modesty of Mao Tse-tung and his supporters if we assumed that such statements only began to appear in December 1966. Indeed, if this were the case, Lin Piao might well have found himself under heavy fire during the "cultural revolution" and shared the fate of those honest Chinese Communists who were slandered, included in the "black gang", and submitted to various forms of repressions up to and including physical annihilation.

The fact is that in his introduction to the Quotations from Chairman Mao published by the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army on the instance and with the active participation of Lin Piao himself, he was merely repeating statements he had made at an enlarged meeting of the Military Committee of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in November and December 1960. However, they were only made public as the words of Lin Piao in 1966, on the eve of the "cultural revolution".

There are important reasons for the long interval between the time this formula was "invented" (1960) and its publication signed not by some obscure author of a history book or article but by Lin Piao himself.

The main reason is that the ambitious strivings of Mao Tse-tung to definitively substitute an eclectic hotch-potch called "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" for genuine Marxism-Leninism met with stiff resistance within the Chinese Communist Party, not to mention the fact that the Maoist claims to hegemony were rejected outright by the fraternal parties and the communist movement as a whole. Even the Albanian leaders, although eulogising Mao and harping on the significance of his "contribution" to Marxism-Leninism, refrain in their official statements from declaring "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" "contemporary Marxism– Leninism of the highest level".

Mao's pretentious claims to be "the greatest Marxist– Leninist of the age" have also caused acute embarrassment to several leaders of pro-Maoist renegade groups. Thus, even such a devoted admirer of the "greatness" of Mao Tse-tung as the Australian E. P. Hill was reported in the press to have advised the Peking leaders in the spring of 1968 to curb the zeal of the Hungweipings abroad, since their habit of thrusting the little red books of quotations and badges of Mao on people was having the opposite of the desired effect 8 and making the "great teacher" and his "disciples" the object of general ridicule.

Although the doubts of his "close allies" abroad sting the swollen pride of Mao Tse-tung, he is soothed by longwinded daily reports from the Hsinhua Agency that "95 per cent of the revolutionary peoples of the world love Chairman Mao" and that there are even tribes living in the jungles of Africa "willing to go through fire in order to receive a badge of Chairman Mao". But the trouble for the Maoists is that many members of the Chinese Communist Party, and especially those who took part in the revolution and are familiar with Marxism, have grave doubts about the views and actions of Mao Tse-tung. During the "cultural revolution" it became known that many leading Party officials were, as Chiang Ching [8•1 put it, "fiercely opposing the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung".

In 1967, the Group for Cultural Revolution Affairs (Chen Po-ta, Chiang Ching, Kang Cheng) gave the Hungweipings access to the Central Committee Archives, and statements against "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" made by Liu Shao-chi, Chu Teh, Teng Hsiao-p'ing, Peng Teh-huai, Chen Yun, Ho Lung, Tan Chen-lin and many others were collected from the minutes and shorthand records of the proceedings of the rarely called plenums of the Central Committee of the CPC, meetings of the Politburo and various closed working meetings held by the Secretariat of the Central Committee.

In February, 1967, a book was published in Peking by the Hungweipings entitled "A Hundred Statements of Liu Shao-chi Against the Thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". Its contents were reprinted in numerous Hungweiping and Tsaofan publications that circulated semi-officially, and also by a number of special magazines published by official bodies, such as Nun-ye chi-chi (Agricultural Machinery). Similar collections of "statements against the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" by many other prominent Party officials were prepared and published in Peking during 1967 and 1968.

In order to give the reader some idea of the contents of this work and the fine language in which it is couched, we have thought it worthwhile quoting a few passages in full. We ask the reader to bear with us, in the belief that his patience will be rewarded with a fuller understanding of the essence of the Maoist mystique and its clear departure from Marxism-Leninism.

The first short passage comes from the compilers' preface. "The reactionary revisionist statements of Liu Shaochi are directly opposed to the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung. In order to show the revisionist snout of Liu Shao-chi we have chosen a hundred examples from among the revisionist statements of Liu Shao-chi."

The part entitled "Liu Shao-chi Belittles the Great Significance of the Thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" contains such "criminal", "black revisionist statements" as the following. "Marxism is essentially the richest teaching in the whole history of the world; any major problems of principle can be solved with its aid." "Many problems were solved long ago by Lenin, but as we had not read Two Tactics [9•1 the triumph of the Chinese revolution was held up for twenty years. If the whole Party had studied Two Tactics in the twenties it would have been possible to prevent the defeat of the revolution in 1927."

In 1962, Liu Shao-chi had published an edited version of his book On the Self-cultivation of Communist Parly Members, written by him in 1939 in Yenan, and essentially directed against Lin Piao's appraisal of Mao's " contribution" and the significance of his "ideas". The book contains a part entitled "Being Worthy Disciples of Marx and Engels". These words absolutely infuriated the Maoists, who screamed: "Did not the closest comrade-in-arms Lin Piao say: Chairman Mao is far higher than Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. There is nobody in the world now who could compare with Chairman Mao and surpass him."

The following statement by Liu Shao-chi in his hitherto unpublished "Reply to Sung Liang" threw the Hungweipings and the Maoists into even greater rage, since they regard it as casting doubt on the theoretical significance of the works of Mao Tse-tung.

"The Communist Party of China has .. . one great weakness. This weakness consists in the fact that with regard to ideology and in the sphere of theoretical education the Party "is insufficiently prepared and relatively immature.... So far no great, works have appeared, and in this respect our Party still has a tremendous task ahead of it." [10•1

In 1964, at the height of the campaign for the study of "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung", a campaign launched on the instance of Mao himself and Lin Piao, Liu Shao-chi declared in a letter: "There are many people in the Party now who are making a dogma of the thoughts of Mao Tsetung."

In the aforementioned work of Liu Shao-chi On the Selfcultivation of Communist Party Members the Maoists discovered the following highly seditious passage, which was apparently directed against the cult of the personality of Mao Tse-tung. According to the collection, he ". .. imagined himself the Chinese Marx and the Chinese Lenin and considered himself to be Marx and Lenin in the Party. Moreover, he had no scruples about demanding that the members of our Party accord him the same respect as Marx and Lenin, support him as the 'leader' and nourish loyalty and love for him.... But can we say with complete certainty that no other such elements will appear in our Party? No we cannot yet maintain this."

In order to get the facts in their true historical perspective, we must say a few words about the role of Liu Shaochi in the creation of the Mao personality cult and the propagation of "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". Liu Shao-chi admitted this himself in a statement made in 1959. "Hitherto I have been creating the cult of personality of Chairman Mao, but I am no longer doing so."

Indeed, until the late forties Liu Shao-chi took an active part in the creation of the cult of personality of Mao Tsetung and exalted his ideas. It was he who at the CPC's Seventh Congress in 1945 defended and justified Mao's thesis of the sinification of Marxism. However, it must be said that under the influence of the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU and the struggle between two trends within the CPC leadership—the internationalist and the nationalist—he was among the many prominent Party officials who proposed at the Eighth Congress that the formula "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung are the guiding ideology of the CPC" be changed. The final text read: "The Communist Party of China is guided in all its activities by Marxism-Leninism."

In the course of the notorious "cultural revolution", Mao Tse-tung hypocritically dubbed Liu Shao-chi's work " revisionist". Naturally it was not really a question of revisionism, but simply that the article set forth Lenin's basic ideas on ideological and organisational work to build up a Marxist party.

An edited version of the pamphlet defended the decisions of the Eighth Congress of the CPC on questions of building up the Party. It stressed the importance of ideological training of Party members in the spirit of Marxism-Leninism, and refusal to tolerate nationalism, chauvinism and cult of personality, explained the need for the Party to adhere to a proletarian class policy and observe the principles of internal Party democracy, the need for international solidarity with the fraternal parties, and pointed out the international significance of the experience of the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries.

It was these propositions and not the references to Confucius and Mencius—whom Mao himself is far more apt to quote than Liu Shao-chi—that so upset the Maoists.

The point was that the dissemination of these principles by Liu Shao-chi was creating an obstacle to the attempts of Mao and company to transform the Party into an instrument of the absolutist military dictatorship of Mao Tsetung.

Many other leading Party members criticised Mao's views to some extent, either openly or in a veiled manner. Peng Teh-huai referred to "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" as primitive and metaphysical. The famous Chinese Marxist philosopher Yang San-chen criticised Mao's philosophical works for their vulgar approach to materialism and "Machist subjectivism". Several senior Party officials remarked that Mao's speeches were full of "truisms" and "verbiage".

It is worth remembering in this connection that in the twenties and thirties Mao had been criticised by Chu Chiupo, Wang Ming, Po Gu and others for "not understanding Marxism", the "narrow empiricism" of his views, and his "inclination for military adventurism", and so on.

In 1961, the Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee reported on the results of the propaganda campaign that had been launched on orders from Mao himself and on the suggestion of Lin Piao following the appearance of Volume Four of Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung in September 1960. As against Lin Piao's claim that "the campaign for the study of the ideas of Mao Tse-tung had armed the workers, peasants and soldiers with a spiritual atom bomb", the Propaganda Department concluded that the campaign was nothing more than "oversimplification" and "vulgarisation" and "typical pragmatism".

In response to Mao's demands that his "thoughts" should be made the basis of theoretical instruction for all Party cadres, and the works of Marx and Lenin be relegated to the role of illustrating and supplementing them, a senior Party official commented: "If in the study of theory we are to take the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung as the basis and study Marx's Capital, how can we speak of the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung as the basis? And did not Lenin say everything there was to say about imperialism, and are any additions necessary? There is no comparing the thoughts of Mao Tsetung with Marxism-Leninism."

Hungweiping publications reported that the famous Chinese revolutionary Yang Shan-kun, once a candidate for election to the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, also protested against the forced propagation of "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". During an inspection of the way Party work was being carried on in the province of Shansi, Yang Shan-kun met with cases of illiterate or semiliterate people being forced to learn "the thoughts of Mao". "This drew a burst of indignation from Yang Shan-kun," the Hungweipings wrote. "He made the slanderous claim that the study of the works of Chairman Mao was an instance of 'social coercion', 'formalism', Vulgarisation', ' profanation'. . . . He declared: 'I do not believe that one can solve a question by reading some work by Chairman Mao.'" Further on they write: "He even went as far as to say that 'the theoretical level is not high' in the Chairman's works, and that they are only to be studied 'to widen one's outlook and for gaining a very general picture'." In conclusion the Hungweipings quote the following scathingly ironic words of Yang Shan-kun. "Here a triumph of the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung, there a triumph of the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung. If someone wins at table tennis it is hailed as a triumph of his thoughts. But what if they lose?"

However, the opposition of the more sober-minded members of the CPC to the efforts to substitute the notorious "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" for real Marxism-Leninism merely caused the Maoists to adopt more roundabout tactics and proceed with the propagation of Maoism via the already purged army apparatus, by-passing the Central Committee.

Mao and his followers embarked on an unprecedented campaign and the cultivation of Mao and his thoughts assumed the scale of a nation-wide psychosis. One myth automatically gave birth to another, as this is the only way a myth can survive. The result was a whole string of myths based on gross distortion of the history of the CPC, the Chinese revolution and the spread of Marxist-Leninist ideas in China. As we have seen, these fabrications centre round the myth of Mao Tse-tung as the "great leader", founder of the CPC, father of "Chinese communism", and even the claim that he has created an integrated philosophical system.

The serious opinions of Chinese Communists, even those that were not directed against "the thoughts of Mao" as such, but merely intended to keep the glorification of Maoism within the bounds of reason, were ignored. As if in deliberate defiance, the Maoists began to connect everything under the sun with the "triumph of the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung", from the sale of water melons to improvements in hairdressing, from surgical operations to the operations of the night soil department. A deliberate movement was under way to deify Mao and give his "thoughts" the status of a Holy Writ. Maoism was gradually becoming a kind of religion.

The aim was to mesmerise a nation of seven hundred million souls with the "thoughts of Mao" and turn them all into unthinking robots, "obedient buffaloes", "stainless screws", in contrast to Marxism-Leninism, where the aim is to develop the creative abilities of the people as a whole and of every individual, giving him a creative role in shaping his own destiny, and making him responsible for the cause of the whole people and the whole Party.

The official Chinese historiographers assert that throughout the history of the Communist Party of China Mao Tse-tung adhered to the singularly true, Marxist views, while all the other Party leaders made either Right- or "Left"– opportunistic mistakes. To prove the fact that he was a "faultless wiseacre", they falsify many of the facts from the history of the CPC. Moreover, they ascribe many of Mao's mistakes to other Party leaders, including Chu Chiu-po, Wang Ming and Liu Shao-chi. [14•1

Before we examine Maoist "philosophical doctrine", two more aspects of the Maoist mystique must be exposed for what they really are: "sinified Marxism" and the philosophical works of Mao Tse-tung.

Mao Tse-tung and his group regard the creation of an aureole around Mao (the "greatest Marxist-Leninist of our age") and the glorification of his so-called "thoughts" (" living Marxism-Leninism of the contemporary age") as a major condition for the establishment of Chinese political hegemony in the world. The Peking leaders' hegemonic ambitions are patently evident. At a meeting in honour of Lu Hsin, a representative of the Hungweipings declared: "We young red soldiers of Chairman Mao.. .will make the sky Mao Tse-tung's sky, the earth Mao Tse-tung's earth, and man a man armed with the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung. We shall hoist over the whole world the great red banner of the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung."

Let us pause here for a moment to glance back at the earlier development of the "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". If we turn to the history of the CPC and examine Mao's past activities, we can immediately see how at every stage of his political career, even back in the days when he was actually making an effort to study Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung had an extremely poor, one-sided grasp of the doctrine. It was not simply that he lacked a proper academic knowledge of all the works of the classics of Marxism-Leninism; more important was the fact that his petty-bourgeois background made him perceive the proletarian doctrine through the prism of Confucianism, nationalism and Sinocentrism.

In a speech made at the Ninth Congress of the CPC, Lin Piao declared that for fifty years (i.e. from 1919) Mao Tsetung had united the universal truth of Marxism-Leninism with the concrete practice of the Chinese revolution. In the light of available historical facts, however, Lin Piao's claim proves to be totally unfounded. In his very earliest works Mao Tse-tung was already expounding non-Marxist ideas. Thus, in A Study of Physical Education, his first work, written in 1917 at the age of twenty-four, he regards the physical fitness of the nation as a means of achieving the national rebirth of China. In his second work, the article "The Great Union of the Popular Masses" (1919), we find no reference to the idea ol working-class leadership in the revolution and no mention at all of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Mao's weak grasp of Marxism, his primitive, vulgarised, and distorted understanding of Marxist theory is particularly in evidence in his political writings of 1926 to 1930. In his articles of this period Mao divided society into classes according to the income of the various groups of the population. He drew no distinction whatsoever between China's backward, semi-feudal society and a developed bourgeois society. In his article "Analysis of All the Classes in Chinese Society" (1926) [15•1 he divided Chinese society into five classes: big capitalists, the middle capitalists, small capitalists, semiproletariat and proletariat. Militarist feudal lords, landowners, state bureaucrats and others were all lumped together as big capitalists. According to Mao's reckoning there were over 155 million capitalists in China! The semi-proletariat class, who according to Mao numbered over 200 million, included semi-independent farmers, tenant farmers, the very poor peasantry, artisans, petty traders and others.

This analysis of the class structure of Chinese society shows that Mao really adopts a petty-bourgeois Leftist standpoint, but includes the petty-bourgeois layers in the proletariat or semi-proletariat in order to hide the fact and make his views appear to be proletarian. Mao's analysis of the Chinese proletariat is very telling in this connection. He exaggerated their number by more than twenty times, naming the figure of 45 million, at a time when they could hardly have numbered two million at the outside.

In the same article Mao expresses his opinion on the major forces of revolution in China. Mao holds that the poorest class is the most revolutionary. He thus considered the petty traders to be the main revolutionary force at the time of writing, followed by the students, urban petty-bourgeois layers, and only then the workers.

Progressively distorting Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung came to regard the peasantry as the most revolutionary class, the class which should take power in the course of the revolution. After the Chinese labour movement had been crushed in the thirties, Mao Tse-tung completely ignored the working class as the leading revolutionary force.

In 1939 and 1940 Mao published "The Chinese revolution and the Communist Party of China" and "On New Democracy" in which he grossly distorted the principles of proletarian internationalism. In these works Mao reviews the Marxist doctrine of the leading role of the working class with reference to the Chinese revolution, paving the way for revision of a basic tenet of Marxism, that concerning the universal-historical mission of the working class. Starting with the idea that the peasants are "the main force in the Chinese revolution" Mao concludes that the main support for the revolution would be found in the countryside and that the correct revolutionary strategy was the encirclement of the towns from the countryside. [16•1

Mao persisted in this one-sided view, declaring that "... the Chinese revolution is virtually the peasants' revolution. . ." [16•2 , and "new-democratic politics is virtually the granting of power to the peasants". [16•3

As soon as he assumed leadership of the Party in 1935, Mao Tse-tung set out to replace Marxism-Leninism with a kind of "sinined Marxism", and later Maoism. Indeed, Mao put forward his idea for the sinification of Marxism as early as 1938, at the Plenum of the Party Central Committee. During the 'rectification' movement for the ideological remoulding of the Chinese Communist Party, the substitution of Maoism for Marxism-Leninism became more or less official policy. In April, 1945, at the Seventh Plenum of the Central Committee, a falsified version of the history of the Chinese Communist Party was approved which in direct violation of historical fact presented Mao as the founder of the Party and associated all its victories with his name.

At the Seventh Plenum nationalistic elements gained the upper hand. The "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" were declared to be "the Party's guiding ideology", and Mao made his first bid to become the ideological mentor of revolutionaries throughout Asia. In 1949, Mao gave the order for Maoism to be propagated everywhere, and made the far from modest claim that "five to seven years after the triumph of the Chinese revolution everyone will accept Maoism, even the Russians".

Substituting his own theories for true Marxism-Leninism, theories that represented, on the one hand, petty-bourgeois illusions about socialism, the "guerrilla habit", populism and neo-Trotskyism and, on the other hand, a reiteration of a few general Marxist theses, Mao Tse-tung posed as a militant opponent of doctrinairism and subjectivism and champion of the purity of Marxist-Leninist doctrine.

In point of fact, however, Mao was already rejecting Leninism. In this period (1938–1945) a marked revision of Marxism-Leninism was evident in his statements, expressed in his refusal to recognise the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution and exaggeration of the revolutionary nature of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie. This was accompanied by a growing tendency to maximise the national features of the Chinese revolution, and contrast it with the Russian Revolution of 1917. At the Plenum held in March 1949, Mao declared: "Leninism is useless for China. China will follow the road of Maoism and not Leninism."

In the early years of the Chinese People's Republic the propagation of the "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" was checked by internationalist opposition in the Party. At the Eighth Congress of the CPC, a directive about the "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" was removed from the Party Rules.

Meanwhile, however, work was in progress to boost Mao's status as "greatest theoretician" and "leader of the revolutionary peoples". At the beginning of the fifties, the Selected Works of Mao were published in China. The works had been carefully pruned for publication, trimmed of all the most clearly nationalist and anti-Marxist statements. The publishers even took care to "cover up their tracks". An order went out that all newspapers of the Yenan period containing articles included in the new "edition" were to be withdrawn, and new copies were put out with the appropriate alterations.

In order to build up Mao Tse-tung's reputation among the Chinese people as the "greatest Marxist-Leninist", the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin have been to all intents and purposes proscribed for study by Communists.

From 1951, the ministers of the cult of Mao have been doing their utmost to create an image of their leader as a highly original thinker and philosopher, to represent the "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" as the theoretical and ideological basis underlying the emergence of the CPC and the entire development of the Chinese revolution. The idea that Mao was already an accomplished Marxist theoretician and a "great philosopher" back in the mid-thirties occupies an important place in this legend. Peking claims that in 1935 Marxism entered the third stage of its development, the stage of "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung".

On March 6, 1968, the Hsinhua Agency informed the world that "Mao Tse-tung is the greatest teacher, the most outstanding commander-in-chief and the wisest helmsman of the Chinese people and the revolutionary peoples of the world".

"Chairman Mao is the greatest genius in the world, to whom none can compare.... He has brilliantly, creatively and all-embracingly inherited, defended and developed Marxism-Leninism, and raised it to the third great level of its development, to a completely new stage—the stage of the Thought of Mao Tse-tung. And the world has entered a new revolutionary age, whose great banner is provided by the Thought of Mao Tse-tung."

Mao's closest follower, the Minister of Defence Lin Piao, went even further. "A genius like Chairman Mao only appears once in several centuries in the world and once in several thousand years in China. He is the greatest genius of all and in all things."

In 'The 'fhrce Great Stages in the History of Marxism, a collection of material published in Peking after the Eleventh Plenum of the CPC Central Committee (held in 19 August, I960), the Maoists "hailed" the world's entry "into the new age of the Thought of Mao Tse-tung". According to this new Peking version, the history of the development of Marxism falls into three stages. The first is the Marxist stage proper, lasting from the appearance of 'The Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848 to the "transformation" of Marxism into its opposite, Bernsteinian revisionism, in 1898.

The second stage, the stage of Marxism-Leninism, begins, according to the clever calculations of the Peking " theoreticians"—with the appearance of Leninism. This period begins with Lenin's attack on Bernsteinism in 1898, and ends in 1935, the year in which the Maoists claim Marxism– Leninism began to mark time in the Soviet Union, Mao Tse-tung became "leader" of the CPC] and "the centre of the world revolution moved from the Soviet Union to China".

The third stage began in 1935 and is still with us. In 1935, taking advantage of the difficult situation that had arisen in the revolutionary movement in China (schism in the Central Committee leadership), Mao Tse-tung, with the aid of loyal army units had the CPC leaders arrested at a meeting in Tsunyi (January, 1935). According to the Maoists, "the thoughts of Mao" are "the newest Marxism of the age when imperialism is heading for complete collapse and socialism is on the way to victory throughout the world". It was not far from this to the announcement at the Ninth Congress of the CPC (April, 1969) that Mao Tse-tung "has inherited, upheld and developed Marxism-Leninism, and raised it to a completely new stage".

The aforementioned book categorically affirms that Mao Tse-tung's articles "On Practice" and "On Contradiction", purporting to have been written in 1937, and Mao's later works "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People" (1957) and "Whence Does a Man Acquire Correct Ideas?" (1963) "are the most all-embracing, perfect and systematised of all the works of Marxist-Leninist philosophy".

The above tirade of quotations from the works of the leaders of the "cultural revolution" indicate an extremely low cultural level not to mention philosophical ignorance. But it must be borne in mind that the history of the spread of Marxism-Leninism in China is not widely known, and that Maoism, by building a wall round China and isolating the Chinese people ideologically and culturally from the peoples of the other socialist countries, has filled a spiritual and ideological vacuum of its own creation. This being so, however primitive the philosophy of Maoism may seem, and however absurd its self-evaluation, all these things must be taken perfectly seriously and confronted with hard facts that show Maoist conceit to be unfounded and destroy the thick web of myth and falsehood.

Let us pause then to consider three questions. First, how did Mao himself formerly assess the theoretical level of the CPC? Second, how were Mao Tse-tung's theoretical works assessed in the CPC, and when did "On Practice" and "On Contradiction" in fact appear? Third, what relation do the philosophical exercises of Mao Tse-tung bear to the philosophical traditions of Marxism?

For years now, the Peking propaganda machine has been maintaining that the Chinese revolution developed "under the guidance of the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". The Revolutionary War Museum in Peking contains exhibits showing how the soldiers of the Chinese People's Army were studying "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" as early as 1928. Thus, it is implied that by the early thirties Mao had already written works "which contained theoretical generalisations on the experience of the Chinese revolution". This claim arouses serious objections. Insofar as the experience of the Chinese revolution was generalised at all, it was done by the Chinese internationalist Communists with considerable help from the Comintern and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Without trying to belittle the contribution of the Chinese Communists, it should nevertheless be pointed out that the most important conclusions are to be found in the works of Lenin, in the decisions of the Comintern congresses and ECCI (Executive Committee of the Communist International) plenums and in the documents of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for the years 1926 to 1928. They designate the major forces at work, the character of the Chinese revolution and the importance of an alliance between the workers and the peasantry, the problems the Party faced in applying Marxism-Leninism in a semi– colonial, semi-feudal, peasant country, such as China was at that time.

It was the Comintern and the CPSU that helped the young Chinese Communist Party gain a proper theoretical understanding of the first stages of the Chinese revolution, and evolve a suitable strategy and tactics of struggle. The fact that the Chinese revolution suffered reverses at certain stages is explained above all by the inexperience of the CPC leadership in mobilising and uniting the working masses of town and country, and frequent Left-sectarian and Rightopportunist mistakes.

An important contribution to the spread of MarxismLeninism in China and the study of the peculiarities of the Chinese revolution was made by such prominent members of the CPC as Li Ta-chao, Peng Pai, Teng Chung-hsia, Chu Chiu-po and Ts'ai Ho-shen, but they soon fell victims to the Kuomintang butchers. Later Mao Tse-tung helped himself to many ideas from Comintern documents and the writings of the Chinese internationalists, without acknowledgement, reinterpreted them to suit himself and presented them as his own.

One of the outstanding leaders of the CPC in the thirties, Wang Ming, who was his Party's representative in the Comintern and made an important contribution to the elaboration of strategical and tactical questions for a united front of the CPC and the Kuomintang, was discredited in the Party by Mao Tse-tung, who proceeded to ascribe his services to himself.

However, even at the beginning of the forties, if we discount a few works on individual problems, the CPC still had no important theoretical works of its own on the experience of the Chinese revolution, no thorough analysis of the social classes in China or of the trends of the country's economic and political development. Mao Tse-tung himself admitted as much in 1942, when he said: "Our practice with its rich variety still needs to be raised to its proper theoretical level. We have not yet examined all the problems, or rather the important ones relating to revolutionary practice, and raised them to the theoretical plane. Just think, how many of us have, on China's economics, politics, military affairs or culture, originated a theory worthy of the name, which can be considered scientific, comprehensive and not crude or sketchy?" [21•1

Much later, in 1958, Mao Tse-tung again admitted the low theoretical level of the Party and its cadres, in a speech at the second session of the Eighth Congress of the CPC. But the solution Mao and his followers suggested for raising the theoretical level of the Party, which was to study (for the umpteenth time!) the same old articles of Mao Tsetung, not only failed to raise the level of the Party in Marxist-Leninist theory, but, on the contrary, led theory off along a false and futile trail.

If, as Maoist "historiography" would have us believe, Mao Tse-tung had already produced a profound theoretical study of the problems of the Chinese revolution and the development of Marxist thought in the thirties, how is it that the Party cadres after repeated study of the "profound" works of Mao remained on the same low theoretical level and the theoretical activity of the Party remained as backward as ever? The answer to that one is no doubt that the Party leadership, and Mao himself, at one time made a far more sober appraisal of their activities in the field of theory than was later the case, and did not consider the mere reciting of elementary truths of the conventional wisdom to constitute a contribution to theory. But this was before Mao Tse-tung began to aspire to the role of "the greatest theoretician of Marxism-Leninism".

The myth of "the greatest theoretician" required the creation of a whole series of new myths about his works. Students of the emergence of "the thoughts of Mao Tsetung" are faced with a remarkable problem considering that the author is still alive—the problem of the authenticity of the texts they are dealing with.

The fact is that the writings of the period 1926 to 1945 included in the first three volumes of the Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, published in 1951, had been so altered as to be sometimes hardly recognisable as the original works.

There would seem to be nothing wrong in the author of works that contain weaknesses and mistakes rewriting them a few decades later when life has brought these shortcomings to light. Generally speaking, this is indeed perfectly alright, provided the principle of historicism is strictly adhered to, provided it is admitted that the original works contained errors which have been eliminated in the new edition, and provided the corrections made correspond to changes in the author's views. If, however, the later edition purports to be the original, we are dealing with falsification of history, serving to embroider on the true historical events and exalt Mao Tse-tung as an infallible genius. A study of the activities of Mao Tse-tung shows that he deliberately chose a "dual personality". While retaining his former, on the whole non-Marxist views, he has allowed his entourage to create a pro-Marxist hypostasis for his views.

This falsification enables the Maoists to draw the conclusion that appeared in the newspaper Jicfangjun pao and which is repeated day after day in China, namely that "The thoughts of Mao Tse-tung are consistent and have always been wise, great and correct". [23•1 It enables the priests of the Mao personality cult to present him as the "incarnation of truth".

The Chinese propaganda machine is trying to convince everybody that "... Mao Tse-tung is always, eternally right, Comrade Mao Tse-tung has taken possession of the truth, he is the incarnation of truth". [23•2

We have already referred to the article "Analysis of All the Classes in Chinese Society", which Mao wrote in 1926. The article with the same title included in Volume One of Selected Works bears absolutely no resemblance to it, and is written in the spirit of popular Marxist literature. A detailed study of the question of the authenticity of Mao Tsetung's articles dealing with the history of the Chinese revolution and guerrilla warfare lies outside the scope of the present work. Suffice it to say that research into the subject by specialists has shown that here, too, a tremendous gap exists between the originals and the versions incorporated in Selected Works.

Nevertheless, it is essential that we dwell for a short time on the question of the authenticity of two articles by Mao Tse-tung, "On Practice" and "On Contradiction".

According to the introduction by the CPC Central Committee commission for the publication of Selected Works, "On Practice" was written in July, 1937, and "On Contradiction" in August of the same year. Of "On Practice" the foreword states: "This article was written to expose from 24 the viewpoint of Marxist theory of knowledge such subjectivist mistakes in the Party as doctrinairism and empiricism, especially doctrinairism." [24•1 A similar claim is made for the other article. It is also stated that the views developed in these works were expounded by Mao Tse-tung in lectures delivered in Yenan.

Scholarly writings on the history of the Chinese revolution used to accept the Peking dating. However, the hypothesis is now being advanced with ever greater insistence from many quarters that these works belong to a later period and have simply been back-dated.

We are dealing with what must have originally been some extremely raw and immature material for lectures delivered by Mao Tse-tung at Yenan.

The following facts suggest that the works did not exist at that time.

1. During the campaign for rectifying style of 1941 to 1945, the political aim of which was the physical liquidation or exclusion from Party work of all internationalist elements, above all those connected with the Comintern, the Party was "re-educated" on the basis of Mao Tse-tung's articles. The decision of the Central Committee of the CPC of July 1, 1941, on the ideological cultivation of Party cadres and the speeches of Kang Sheng included a long list of articles by Mao Tse-tung, Kang Sheng and other Party members which were recommended for study by all members of the CPC to help overcome "doctrinairism" and " empiricism". However, none of these lists include a single "philosophical" work by Mao Tse-tung, although the two articles in question, as we have seen, were especially written to condemn these "deviations".

2. No mention of these works is to be found in the Yenan newspaper Jiefang jih-pao.

3. The articles do not figure in the Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung published in 1945 and 1947.

4. Various books on the CPC and Mao Tse-tung were published in connection with the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the CPC in 1951. The most important of these were the pamphlets "The Thoughts of Mao Tse-tung —the Union of Marxism-Leninism and the Chinese Revolution" by Chen Po-ta and "Thirty Years of the Communist Party of China" by Hu Chiao-mu. Although both authors give a detailed account of the ideological struggle in the CPC and do their utmost to exalt Mao Tse-tung as a theoretician, curiously enough, neither makes any mention of "the great philosophical works of Mao Tse-tung".

It would be wrong, however, to deduce from all this that Mao Tse-tung did not write any philosophical works at all. He both wrote and spoke on the subject. But the fact was that neither he nor his associates took these philosophical exercises of his at all seriously at the time. Thus, in 1937, Mao delivered lectures on philosophy at Yenan which were subsequently published in the Shanghai journal Min-chu in 1940 with the title "Dialectical Materialism". Later, a fuller text of these lectures was published without the author's name by the Ta-chung shu-tien firm in Talien. The year of publication is not indicated, but it was somewhere between 1945 and 1949.

It must be said that when Mao delivered his lectures in Yenan he did not consider his material "The Peak" of philosophical thought, but on the contrary, had an extremely modest opinion of them and wrote that their main purpose was to explain the dialectic in simple terms for Party cadres. "The dialectic is considered difficult because there are no good books explaining it," he wrote. "Of the many books on the dialectic we have in China some are erroneous while in others it is badly or not very well expounded. This makes people fight shy of the dialectic. A good book should explain the dialectic in simple language, in terms of reference that are close and understandable to all. A book of this sort must definitely appear in the future. This course of lectures of mine cannot be considered good either, since I myself have only just begun studying the dialectic and am not capable of writing a good book.. . ." [25•1

Thus, Mao's claims to have made a contribution to the development of Marxist philosophy are totally unfounded. Even before we come to analyse the content of Mao Tsetung's philosophical works, it is clear that the Maoists claim that a new stage in Marxist philosophy began in 1935 is purely a myth.

There is one more question we feel should be answered before we go any further. Readers who have no special knowledge of China may well be puzzled as to why the Maoists at the Ninth Congress of the CPC should have rejected the term Maoism in favour of the unwieldy "Mao Tse-tung's Thought".

In order to form any conclusions about the relation Maoism bears to Marxism, it is necessary to analyse the social and ideological roots of Mao's outlook, and examine Mao Tse-tung's ideological development and emergence as a "theoretician".

The substitution of Maoism for Marxism-Leninism was actually effected at the Ninth Congress of the CPC, although the fact was camouflaged with the formula "Marxism– Leninism-Mao Tse-tung's Thought". This formula was designed to present the thoughts of Mao, in the words of Lin Piao, as "a completely new stage in the development of MarxismLeninism". While expressing the interests and ideology of the petty-bourgeois nationalist trend in the CPC, Mao Tsetung is forced to reckon with the tremendous authority of Marxism-Leninism in the revolutionary movement in the world as a whole and in China in particular. This is why he is at such pains to make use of the moral, political and scientific authority of the teaching of Marx, Engels and Lenin in his own interests.

On the other hand, Mao is apparently well aware that his ideological "inventions", which are confined to a relatively narrow, specific field of politics, philosophy and history, look very slight when compared to the all-embracing quality of Marxism-Leninism. Maoism in general suffers from an " inferiority complex", which makes Mao himself and his supporters try to back up all his "inventions" with references to the classics of Marxism-Leninism.

Another factor at work here is the Chinese way of thinking, which has been greatly influenced by Confucianism, involving an immense respect approaching reverence for tradition. This Chinese traditionalism means that any proposition, however novel, must somehow be derived from the "instructions of the great teacher", Confucius and his disciples. In the case of Mao, the great "source" has split into two: he has tried to find support for his ideas in the works of Confucius and Chinese traditions and at the same time take refuge in quotations from the classics of Marxism– Leninism.

This helps explain why the Maoists continue to pose as Marxist-Leninists after having rejected Marxism-Leninism for Maoism back in the early sixties.

Having declared "Mao Tse-tung's Thought" the third stage in the development of Marxism-Leninism, the Peking leaders were naturally faced, as the next logical step, with the task of introducing a new "ism"—"Maoism" or "Mao Tse-tungism". This is indeed what the most consistent Maoists have repeatedly tried to do. Mao himself, however, has always opposed this, preferring that his doctrine be called "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung". Then at the Ninth Congress, in order to emphasise the special place these "thoughts" occupy as a doctrine at once original and a part of the Marxist tradition, the term "Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung's Thought" was introduced.

Why was it that Mao Tse-tung and his entourage felt obliged to reject the terms "Maoism" or "Mao Tse-tungism" in favour of the curious combination "Mao Tse-tung's Thought"?

The reasons are as follows.

1. Mao Tse-tung still strives to back up his views with the authority of Marxism-Leninism and appear as an original interpreter and "developer" of the Marxist tradition. The expression "Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse-tung's Thought" emphasises this, and at the same time corresponds to the political aims of the struggle for hegemony in the revolutionary movement.

2. The terms "Maoism" and "Mao Tse-tungism" sound like foreign borrowings in Chinese. In Chinese, "ism" is rendered by a combination of characters pronounced "chu-yi" which came into use in the nineteenth century for the translation of foreign words ending in "ism". By rejecting " chuyi," which means literally "my own doctrine" and replacing it with "ssu hsiang"—"thought, interpretation"—which is more familiar to the Chinese, Mao was at once stressing his originality as a theoretician and making a concession to the traditional Chinese xenophobia. The more so in that in traditional Chinese usage, the "ssu hsiang" implies "original thought" combined with continuity.

Thus, the term they have chosen enabled the Maoists to screen themselves from criticism and allows them plenty of room for manoeuvre.

3. In choosing a convenient term, the Maoists were probably unable to entirely ignore the fact that back in 1955 the Central Committee of the CPC had forbidden the use of special terminology in referring to the views of Mao Tsetung, insisting that they be regarded purely as the application of Marxism-Leninism in Chinese conditions. We have already seen how the Eighth Congress of the CPC (1956) re-examined the theses of the Seventh Congress (1945) that the "thoughts of Mao Tse-tung" were "sinified Marxism" and "Chinese communism", and made no reference in the documents to "the thoughts of Mao Tse-tung".

4. A further reason why the Maoists rejected the term "Maoism" is that as soon as the Marxist-Leninist parties grasped the true significance of the "special course" of the Mao Tse-tung group, they began to insist on its incompatibility with Marxism-Leninism and named it "Maoism" in order to make the distinction clear. Thus, even before the Maoists had prepared the way within the country and the Party for the introduction of the term "Mao chu-yi", Maoism, the Marxist-Leninists had already succeeded in their efforts to discredit it and make it synonymous with anti-Marxism, anti-Sovietism, chauvinism and hegemonic ambitions.

In view of this, the Maoists did not dare to introduce the term "Maoism" in the documents of the Ninth Congress, although the matter was discussed. Instead, they settled for the term "Mao Tse-tung's Thought".

After the Ninth Congress, the Mao worshippers tried another trick to emphasise the originality and unusual qualities of their leader. They changed the way the last two characters of his name are written. In Peking foreign language publications, his name now appears as TSETUNG instead of Tse-tung. The point is that when written together the characters acquire the reading "light of the East", the idea being to give his name a symbolic meaning. The trouble with the way they were written before was that they had the reading "bog east" which can mean "bog of the East", "boggy East" or "bogging-down East"—you can take your pick. It is easy to see why Peking should wish to avoid the implications this coincidence might suggest to many as a reflection on the activities of their leader.

* * *


[6•1] Quotations from Mao Tse-tung'i Works (in Russian), Peking, 1966, p 1.

[8•1] Chiang Ching, Mao's fourth wife. A film actress in the thirties; from 1966, during the "cultural revolution", she rose to a prominent position in the Peking hierarchy, and together with Kang Cheng occupied the most extreme Maoist positions.

[9•1] Liu Shao-chi is referring to Lenin's Two Tactics of Social– Democracy in the Democratic Revolution.

[10•1] The cuts were made by the compilers. The emphasis was added by the present authors.—M.A., U.G.

[14•1] The same trend is to be seen in joint articles published by Hungchih, Jen-min jih-pao, and Jiefangjun pao and devoted to the centennial of the Paris Commune and the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of China celebrated in March and June 1971.

[15•1] Our references to this article are to the original version and not the one that was specially written in the fifties for inclusion in Selected Works.

[16•1] Selected Works, Volume Three, p. 85.

[16•2] Ibid., p. 137.

[16•3] Ibid., p. 138.

[21•1] Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Volume Four, p. 30.

[23•1] fiefangjiin j»io, November 13, 1903.

[23•2] Hsi Tung, Cohesion mid Unity it] I lie Parly (in Chinese), Shanghai, 1961, p. 125.

[24•1] Mao Tse-tung-, Selected Works. Volume One, p. 282.

[25•1] Dialectical Materialism (in Chinese), Talien, p. 110 (emphasis added.—M.A., V.G.).

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